The worldwide Augustana College experience

Time To Get Down To Business

Wednesday morning we all woke up early, put on our teacher clothes, ate a free breakfast, and headed to the schools. A large group of girls greeted us as soon as we entered the grounds. All of the math teachers were excited to see the large group of girls, but I could tell they were nervous. We all went into the auditorium where we went up onto the stage and had a seat. The Alpha girls lined up in about 6 lines and waited. The principle or head master introduced Dr. Egan and then Dr. Egan introduced the math teachers. Then the principle lead the girls in song and prayer. The Jamaican national anthem was absolutely beautiful. The math teachers went off to work and the rest of us wondered over to the Alpha Boys school. We met the principle over there and she told us to be firm with the boys and stand our ground. She explained to us that if we yelled at the boys or were stern or strict with them we were not being mean, but giving the boys the structure they need. A lot of the boys were court ordered to be here and if they don’t shape up at Alpha the next step is jail or death.

After talking with the principal for a bit we went on a tour of the school. Most of the buildings were bright colors like green, blue, or yellow. There was this one big room about the size of a cafeteria filled with 80 bed made up all nice and neat with teddy bears sitting on top of some of them. Like most other places we visited the boys stared at us as we walked along. We ended up in the computer room where we met the man of the hour Mr. Armand. We explained who we were and what we had come to do. He was so excited to meet us and started to help us put together a schedule. Finally we had some structure and could plan more specifically what we wanted to do. Up until then we had no idea what ages we were going to be dealing with and what levels they were at. Then we had lunch and started working with the first and second graders. When I say first and second graders I mean first and second form. We gave each of the first and second graders a pre-assessment to help us get a better idea of ability levels and the differences between the different age levels. That  night we had dinner at the hotel. I had more chicken big surprise.

After dinner we all got together with our groups and planned for the next day. Stephanie, Julia, Deonna, and I were going to be in charge of teaching the fist and second graders.  Julia and Stephanie were in charge of teaching the first graders while Deonna and I assisted and then Deonna and I were going to teach the second graders while Stephanie and Julia assisted. The other three ladies in our elementary education group were going to be taking pictures and videos of us while we taught and then we would do the same for them as they taught the third, fourth, and fifth graders. Deonna and I decided that we wanted to have two groups. We used the assessment results from the first day to split them up accordingly. Then we decided that Deonna would take group B and I would take group A. We created two different stations. In the library we would have four iPads for the students to
play selected math games on and then in the computer room we would work on story problems using the SMART board.

The next day we arrived at the schools at 8:30AM and we started to prep for the days activities. The first graders arrived at 9:30AM after eating breakfast. I assisted Julia as she taught her group.Then the second graders came and it was my turn to play teacher. My group started off with the iPads. I could tell that the students were really enjoying using the iPads because when I would ask them a question they would either ignore me or give me a very short response. They were just so wrapped up in the games. I could see them focusing and thinking hard to figure out the problems. The thing I love the most about the iPads is that I can switch the settings to adjust the difficulty to their levels. Also if the students were getting bored of one game I could easily switch it to a new game. For the second 20 minutes I worked on story problems with my students. I used my students’ names in the story problems I created so they could see their names written on the SMART board and so that they could feel like they were part of the story problem. I had them help me create the problems too. For example, I would say “Richard has 17 what”? and then one of my boys would say “bananas” or something like that. I started off easy with addition and subtraction word problems. I knew they knew how to do these problems based on the pre-assessment so I did not do more than one of each problem. I wanted to start off with easy problems that I knew they would get right so that they would feel confident with their skills moving forward and not frustrated about being unable to get the correct answer. Then I moved on to story problems with missing addends and subtrahends. They struggled a bit with these but were eager to go up to the SMART board and try to work it out.

That night my roommate and I walked to KFC for dinner. I felt perfectly safe walking down the street in Kingston to get to the two story KFC. I got a piece of chicken and some fries for $480. After dinner we all got back into our groups to plan for the final day of teaching. On our final day at the schools I taught multiplication to my second graders. I started out teaching them tricks and strategies that go along with multiplication and then let them practice solving multiplication problems with a game I created. I split my group in half and gave each group one piece of paper and one pen. I explained that I would give them a multiplication problem and then in their group
they would have to write the problem, show their work, and then come to me with the correct answer. The first team to bring me their paper with the correct answer would get a point. I really wanted the students to work together in their groups and to help out one another. The students did really well with this game and really got into it. I was so impressed. The boys were so smart which forced me to keep having to change things up in order to provide them with a challenge. After lunch that day we joined the math teachers for an assembly at the Alpha Girls School where they thanked us for coming.

Overall I really enjoyed the time I spent at the Alpha Boys School. Three days was  not long enough to really impact the boys academically, but they loved the attention. I could tell that most of the boys did not want to be in school during their time off for the holiday, but as they were getting ready to leave they would ask if they were going to get to see us again the next day. The boys were so smart and I was very impressed with how much they knew. I expected the boys to be blown away with our iPads but they said that they had used iPads before. I wish I could have stayed longer with the boys. I wish I could have done more or given more to the boys. Coming away from this trip I feel as if I learned and gained so much knowledge and experience. I only hope that I was able to impact the boy half as much as they impacted me.

It was interesting being the minority for once during this trip. We thought it was cool that there were goats on the side of the road. Once when we were stuck in traffic we decided to take pictures of the goats along the side of the road and the guy in the car next to us started to laugh at us. We stuck out not only because of our skin color, but because we did things like take pictures of goats. The goats are normal to the Jamaicans and they really did not think anything of it. To us though it was so different we could not help but take notice. I learned a lot just by observing how things were done and then comparing it to the way things are done in the United States. I truly enjoyed learning about things that I did not understand from the locals who were more than willing to share their insight.

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